NEW YORK (Nov. 13)
The 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Keren Hayesod (Palestine Foundation Fund) was celebrated at a meeting at the Hotel Roosevelt tonight. Scheduled speakers included David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive; Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, chairman of the United Palestine Appeal; Louis Lipsky, national chairman of the Keren Hayesod, and Charles Reiss, chairman of its board of directors.
Rutenberg, in a press statement in Jerusalem, on Nov. 7, had announced a renewed effort for unity through establishment of “a small body of authoritative persons to whom all practical work in Palestine will be transferred,” abandonment of the proposed Asefath Hanicharim elections as “expensive and absurd,” a ban on strikes and distribution of work through labor exchanges organized by the Vaad Leumi.
Ben Gurion, at today’s press conference, made these three reservations regarding the Rutenberg call for unity:
(1) The Yishub’s activities must be continued on constructive lines, preserving internal unity and the democratic organization of the Jewish community.
(2) The local activities of the Yishub, as carried on by the Vaad Leumi, must remain separate from the field of the Jewish people as a whole, as represented by the Jewish Agency.
(3) A just distribution of work on the basis of the general labor bureaus sponsored by the Jewish Agency.
The Jewish Agency leader also said he would welcome a return of the Zionist-Revisionists, provided they would accept equal responsibility with other Zionist groups, place themselves under the Zionist political discipline and not carry on any separate political action.
The principal problems facing the Palestine Jews at present, Ben Gurion said, are (1) strengthening the economic structure (2) just labor distribution, but without using it as a weapon to harm organized labor, (3) establishment of unity, “but not a totalitarian regime,” and preservation of the freedom of discussion.
Ben Gurion stressed that the Palestine Jews were united on fundamental questions, except for the Revisionists. He denounced in particular the Trgun Leumi as “a terrorist group” carrying on activities against Jewish institutions. He also referred to a “boycott of Jewish labor” by “some circles” and “efforts to fight against the principle of collective bargaining and organized labor.”
The Palestine Jews will not accept any plan which does not preserve democracy and free elections, Ben Gurion said. “There are a few who seem to think some sort of Fascist method would be better,” he said, “but this cannot happen in Palestine. Some groups oppose universal suffrage. I regret that a passage in Rutenberg’s statement can be interpreted as supporting this position…Democracy must go on in Palestine.”
“Some circles want the Vaad Leumi to assume functions of the Jewish Agency,” Ben Gurion continued, “but this will not happen. It would be a great political misfortune for the Yishub. There is a division of functions between the Vaad Leumi and the Agency. The Vaad Leumi is responsible for questions of local concern, but the Jewish Agency must continue to handle all matters which represent the Jews as a whole.